Bitly and Twitter
Using A Link Shortener with Twitter
Bitly is an online service which is known as a “link shortener”. This service converts long URLs to a shorter URLs. You sometimes want to link to other content within your tweet but if the URL link is too long then this can be a problem. You don’t want to use a large portion of your 280 characters simply by providing the linking URL. A link shortening service “shrinks” long URLs into much smaller ones. Link shortening is very valuable for Twitter.
A link shortening service creates the shorter link. The service then converts the short link back to the full URL when someone clicks on it. The path to the original (longer) URL is maintained so that others who want to learn more from your tweet, by clicking on the link you provided, can do so.
There are many link shortening services but my choice is Bitly. In general, a link shortening tool or service is valuable as it saves space (reduces character count). A URL shortening service also makes long unsightly URLs more presentable (presentation counts!).
Why do I prefer Bitly?
I like two aspects of Bitly that make it more valuable than some of the others.
1. Bitly keeps track of some statistics.
You always want to be able to measure the performance of what you do. If you create a special set of tweets or tweet about a specific blog post then to track the effectiveness of your tweeting activity is valuable. In Bitly, you can see the performance of your shortened URL.
In the display below we can see the total number of clicks for the shortened Bitly link and we can also see the clicks as a function of time. This enables us to better understand the performance of a link or the performance of tweets with that specific Bitly link.
2. Bitly enables you to create custom URLs.
We all know that presentation is important. Bitly enables you to shorten your URL and customize it. If you do not wish to create a custom link then Bitly will shorten your long URL to something such as this:
bit.ly/2x5KuY8 (14 characters)
This shortened link is fine but it can be even better.
In this example, we can see the original long URL which is http://www.DelphiniumBooks.com/book/read-us-late-afternoon/ (59 characters). We can also see the shortened version which is bit.ly/SheReadToUs (18 characters).
We note that it is significantly shorter. However, we can also see that the presentation of the shorter link has been improved as the customized Bitly link with SheReadToUs is much more presentable and memorable than 2x5KuY8.
Converting the long URL to a short one provides value. To brand the link for a better presentation creates even more value.
The custom bit.ly link is 4 characters longer than the default which is very acceptable. The extra 4 characters are worth it to have the nicer custom display for the link.
In order to take advantage of these two valuable aspects of Bitly, you will need to sign up and register for an account. However, the free version of bit.ly provides you with these benefits.
Twitter Tip Summary
Sometimes it is necessary to shorten a long URL so that you can devote more characters to the message, hashtags, and @mention parts of your tweets.
I recommend that you explore Bitly as you will then gain insights by being able to see the link performance statistics.
In addition to a shorter URL with performance tracking your will also be able to customise the shorter URL. This helps you to display a more presentable URL which looks better in the tweet.
If you want to follow Bitly on Twitter their handle is @Bitly. The free account is a great way to get started and if you outgrow your free account then they have an enterprise-grade account (custom pricing) which not only enables you to create more than 500 branded links but provides more in-depth reporting on the links you have created using Bitly.
For more Twitter Tips visit the Twitter Tips section of the SEO Notebook blog.